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Zoning In

The Spring Game has come and gone. That means, of course, that once again we have entered the Dead Zone, that void of endless NBA and NHL playoffs, a stupefying number of professional baseball games and countless and seemingly pointless NASCAR races and golf tournaments. It will be the usual four months. Even the prospects of an exciting Conference Expansion Season to spice things up seem to have dwindled.

As for the Virginia Tech Spring Game, it was what it always is, a crackerjack reason for large numbers of Hokies to get together and party. For the second time in three years, the threatening skies and the prospects of walking a lengthy distance back to the Clubhouse Tailgate in pouring rain convinced me that time would be better spent hanging around the RVs with friends. It was.

From the portions I have watched of the video posted to You Tube by that freak who never seems to quite get the word about Frank’s wishes on the matter [exactly what will any other coach learn about Tech he didn’t already know from watching THAT, Frank?], I didn’t miss much. While that view didn’t seem to be shared by the over forty thousand who actually attended the game, I don’t find glorified scrimmages compelling football, especially when there is even a chance I might get rained upon.

All of the decisions to be made about the 2010 Tech football team seem to involve depth and I doubt there was anything that took place on the field that changed any minds among the coaches that will make those decisions with minimal no input  from me. Those decisions all seem to involve depth issues, such as the identity of the fourth-string tailback and who will get a handful of snaps each game at a variety of defensive positions. I’m guessing Tyrod’s backup has already been determined and it is the same Logan Thomas that everybody assumes it will be. When your major questions involve non-starters, chances are the team is going to be pretty good.

The Dead Zone that hits by every May Day is again here. There had been high hopes that the Big 11 turning into the Big Teen would liven things up, but Big 11 commish Jim Delaney seemed to toss cold Great Lakes water onto that notion. At last week’s BCS meetings, with sportswriters proclaiming that collegiate Armageddon was upon us, Delaney scheduled a press conference, strode to the podium at the anointed hour and then announced that he had no announcement. The conference expansion that Delaney the previous week had claimed was on the fast track unless it was not turned out to be the latter. Conference Expansion season will drag on, perhaps for the 12-18 months originally claimed by Delaney as necessary for ‘evaluation.’

Not to be outdone, head SEC honcho Mike Slive then quickly scheduled his own press conference and forcefully announced that if Delaney had no announcement, he had none either, meaning the politically-joined Texas and A&M  will hang around the Big XII a while longer. Slive did vow to keep an eye on that sneaky Delaney and match him non-announcement for non-announcement, proving that he was easily the equal of Delaney when it came to saying nothing.

Out west, Pac-10 boss Larry Scott quickly chimed in that he also had nothing to say. Scott, busily pondering whether 1] the addition of Utah to his league would be enough to get Orin Hatch off the back of the BCS, 2] if not, how he would sell BYU to those bastions of religious tolerance in Berkeley and Palo Alto, 3] how USC can dodge the NCAA hangmen this time and 4] how much cash would a Pac-12 football championship game be worth if they can’t, claimed to be taking a ‘wait and see’ approach. Most of the waiting and seeing seems to depend on how much blabbing is done by Reggie Bush.

Then there is the Li’l E. Dave Gavitt’s creation has become known during Conference Expansion seasons as the ‘raidee,’ due to the habit by other conferences thinking about expansion to immediately target the league. Current Li’l E commish John ‘Mikey told me there would be days like this’ Marinatto vowed that his league would be ‘proactive’ this time around. While there were some trial balloons floated that the league would target Maryland and Fredo for expansion, setting off wild laughter from College Park to the Corleone compound, being ‘proactive’ to the Li’l E generally means identifying which CUSA dregs they want this time  after again losing real schools to real conferences.

Manicotti John did liven things up by hiring former NFL czar Paul Tagliabue as an ‘unpaid’ consultant. Tagliabue quickly set to work giving the Li’l E its money’s worth by ripping the notion of the Big 11 becoming the Big Teen by adding RUTSgers. Comments to the effect of, ‘Why would anybody want the Dorks? They stink’ and ‘any Long Island resident with half a brain can find thousands of better things to do than watch the Dorks and Minnesota’ certainly enhanced his popularity in Piscataway. Well, he would have been in a position to know that when the word ‘football’ is mentioned to most anybody in the greater New York City area, RUTSgers is not the name that pops to mind.

Attempting to hold a conference together by claiming that its teams are so lousy that no other league in their right mind would possibly want them is certainly a novel concept. I guess being ‘proactive’ means different things to different people.

Despite a level of proactivity that seems on a par with that shown by Neville Chamberlain in the 1930’s [“Why would you possibly want Czechoslovakia, Adolph?”], the Li’l E is not exactly dealing from a stacked deck. Manicotti John is well aware that of his eight football-playing schools, four of them are steadily plying Delaney with hookers and alcohol and anything else that might enhance their appeal to the Big 11 and there is nothing he can do to stop it. Perhaps that is why Delaney is stringing out this Conference Expansion season.

Or, it might be the latest from Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick. The ND sports boss claimed that the Irish rather enjoyed having their sports other than football associated with the Catholic side of the Biggie E and planned on keeping it that way, even if the Li’l E rounded up a few more CUSA space-fillers and replaced all of those nifty Syracuse- Georgetown basketball games with Orangeperson-Strawgrasper ratings winners. Of all the schools that are frantically pleading to be allowed to feed at the BTN trough, the only one the Still The Big 11 really wants keeps saying ‘No.’ This even after Delaney threatened to trash their conference around them. Perhaps ESPN2 can liven up those dreadful Dead Zone poker shows by televising the game being played between Swarbrick and Delaney.

While Delaney heads back to the drawing board to study for the 12-18 months he originally said it would take to figure out who else out there is worthy of the yearly $20 extra-large he has been trying to foist off on Notre Dame, we move into another Dead Zone. Only 19 weeks to FedEx!


  1. BobLee — April 27, 2010 #

    Another good’un Hokie Jim!
    I’m predicting a monster expansion tsunami within the next 3 years.  It will completely shuffle the college football deck of cards as we know it.   It will effect EVERYONE ….. except of course for ECU.  Something HAS TO never change.


  2. Police Department — April 27, 2010 #

    Dear Alderson,
    NHL/NBA/NASCAR do not define Dead Zone.
    Instead, it is PAR.  Police Arrests Rate.


    Jim Reply:

    Those State players certainly made a strong case for the Pack to the SEC.


  3. Greg — April 27, 2010 #

    Well Jim, even the players HAVE to do SOMETHING during the dead zone :-)


  4. William — May 3, 2010 #

    Hey Jim you forgot that this summer we have the World Cup to help pass the time.  The US and  England are in the same group. Should be a lot of fun


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